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Background photo: A hand-tinted linen postcard view of Three Sisters from Scott Lake, circa 1920.
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Brown, seeing Dolly, said, “That’s the girl I had arrested.” Carrie, now that the identification had been confirmed, turned on all of her considerable charm. She apologized profusely to Brown for all the trouble her girls had caused him, chatted him up, bought him a drink or two, and soon the four of them were carousing like old friends.
They got a bit loud about it, though, and when the saloon owner asked them to keep it down, Carrie suggested that they go back to her house, where they could sing and dance all they wanted. Brown said he’d rather not go back there, whereupon Carrie Bradley set her femme-fatale-sexiness phaser on “kill” and let him have it: “But tonight, you go with me,” she purred, batting her eyes at him.
The upshot was, a little later that night, Brown walked into Carrie Bradley’s house for a second … and final … time.
Soon Brown was carousing in the whorehouse parlor, guzzling brandy laced with opium. “Professor” Otto Jordan was hammering away on the piano, as usual, and the other girls were around as well; so if Carrie wanted to put the ice on Brown that night she’d have to be subtle about it. She pulled Ace Nisonger aside and, claiming an attack of rheumatism (surely an odd affliction for a 28-year-old woman), asked him if there was any chloroform around; Ace told her they were fresh out. She handed him a dollar and sent him down to a late-night drugstore to buy some.
It took a lot of opiated brandy to do it, but eventually James Nelson Brown passed out. Carrie and Dolly carried him upstairs to bed with a little help from Pete Sullivan, and tucked him in. Then Dolly and Pete left the room … but Carrie stayed behind. She got out a hand towel and one of the two fifty-cent bottles of chloroform that Ace had brought back for her, soaked the towel in it, and tied it securely around Brown’s face.
Then she left him to die in her bed.
Sullivan rushed to Brown’s room and, sure enough, there Brown was, dead in bed with a chloroform rag knotted around his face.
Then the door burst open and Carrie Bradly stormed in, a pair of brass knuckles wrapped around her right fist. Straight to the corpse she went, and started savagely pounding it with the knucks.
“You two are in this as deep as me,” she told Pete and Ace. “You have to help me get rid of him.”
So Pete went down to the cellar with the fireplace-ashes shovel to try to dig a grave. He got just a few inches into the ground before giving up. Carrie sent Dolly to fetch her ex-boyfriend, Charley Hamilton — they’d split up fairly acrimoniously some time before, and she’d tried to get him arrested for assault and for trying to light her house on fire, but apparently they’d patched things up.
Hamilton took over corpse-disposal duties. He waited for dark and then, calling in a hack driver he knew, he propped up the dead guy in the back and they took him down to the river, tied him neck and feet to a couple big rocks, and heaved him off the wharf.